December 16th, 2008
03:35 PM ET
9 years ago

Bush stands by decision to invade Iraq

Pres. Bush signed an agreement with the Iraqi government in Baghdad Sunday.

Pres. Bush signed an agreement with the Iraqi government in Baghdad Sunday.

WASHINGTON (CNN) - As President Bush prepares to leave office and looks back over his tenure, he Tuesday continued to stand firmly by his decision to go to war in Iraq, calling the decision to send troops into harm's way the most important one he made he has made in the Oval Office.

"I listened to a lot of people before we went into Iraq. And I listened to a lot of people, including in my own administration, who said, 'it's just not working. Let's get out.' And I listened very carefully to them. And obviously, came to a different conclusion," President Bush told CNN's Senior Political Correspondent Candy Crowley during a tour of the Oval Office.

While he did not want to revisit his decision to go to war, Bush he was ultimately concerned about "whether or not we would succeed."

"I have worried about it in the past, in 2006 in particular. In Iraq, I was deeply concerned about whether or not we would succeed," he said. "A lot of people in Washington, were saying, let's get out now. And I obviously chose not to do that. But, that was a very difficult period," he said.

The president said he "considered all options" when it came to Iraq and contemplated leaving but said, "I could not live with myself, if I had chosen to just leave and leave behind the valor and the sacrifice of a lot of our young men and women. I would have never been able to face their loved ones."

Returning to Texas

Bush and first lady Laura Bush will head to Dallas after they leave Washington to live in home the president has yet to see firsthand. He plans to open up an institute at Southern Methodist University and will write a book he hopes will present a fuller picture of his presidency than perhaps some of his critics have portrayed.

"I would like to share my experiences, and I think it's going to be important for people to remember what the actual history of my presidency was all about. History tends to shift very rapidly people forget what the environment in which the decisions were made," he said.

Crowley, who started covering the president when he was Texas governor in 1998, asked whether he was still the same person he was back then.

"I didn't change my basic values," Bush said. "I loved my wife then. I love her now. I realize my most important job was to be a loving father, and it is still my most important job. I believed in an almighty then my belief has been strengthened. You've got to say I'm a little wiser. My knowledge of the world is more profound."

Looking forward to a historic moment

Even though his days in office are winding down, the president said he is "not sitting around doing nothing," especially with the transition to President-elect Barack Obama's administration underway.

Bush said he hopes Obama, who will become the nation's first African-American president, is pleased with his administration's efforts.

"We care about him. We want him to be successful, and we want the transition to work," Bush said.

Looking ahead to inauguration, Bush said he is thrilled to "have a front row seat in an unbelievable moment in American history. And I was deeply touched by a lot of people I saw on election night with tears streaming down their face and saying, 'I never, ever thought I would see this day coming.'"

Bush said his "faith in Democracy" made him sure that someday an African American would hold the office he has occupied for eight years, and he is certain more changes will come.

"I believe there will be a woman president," he said. "I am amazed to have watched, you know, Barack Obama come from basic, relative obscurity to now be the - soon to be the president of the United States. And he gives a lot of people hope. And that's good for the country."

Filed under: Iraq • President Bush
soundoff (119 Responses)
  1. Wayne E.

    Why would bush not stand behind his illegal invasion of Iraq.... The oil companies and corporations which help him steal the office in 2000 , and 2004 have made a killing off of the blood of our soldiers and the destruction of our country...

    This is Why the election was stolen for Bush and Cheney...

    December 16, 2008 05:55 pm at 5:55 pm |
  2. Patrick

    He was right to invade, right to stay, and right to stay be his decision now. In 20 years this decision will not be questioned. Why are so many people so quick to try to bash someone for expanding freedom in the world? The ones who redicule him are the same ones who currently enjoy the freedom that we are trying to give to Iraq.

    December 16, 2008 05:57 pm at 5:57 pm |
  3. billy-bayou

    What are they waiting for j, the strong man to leave office so they can attack when one of their own is in charge in Washington. You wanted "change" now you are about to get it. will you be at ground "O" when it happens?

    December 16, 2008 06:00 pm at 6:00 pm |
  4. Doug in New Mexico

    So the President stood by his decision to invade. He has stood by every decision. Now really, he couldn't say that the invasion had nothing to do with WMDs could he? He couldn't say that he and his cohorts were after the oil or that the purpose was to make Iraq a democracy or that he was after Saddam for attempting to kill his daddy. My My what a spectacle this has been, and such a tragedy.

    December 16, 2008 06:00 pm at 6:00 pm |
  5. Pychic

    Good thing you dont have to be able to read,to write a book now days.I see a poor selling book in his future.

    December 16, 2008 06:04 pm at 6:04 pm |
  6. Ron Henry

    When it came to Iraq, Bush said about leaving, "I could not live with myself if I had chosen to just leave, and leave behind the valor and the sacrifice of a lot of our young men and women. I would have never been able to face their loved ones."
    My question is this: how can he face their loved ones in face of the fact that he took them into a war of choice under false pretense?

    December 16, 2008 06:04 pm at 6:04 pm |
  7. Louis

    No matter how earnest his intent, Bush deserves to be villified for a debacle that has killed so many and cost so much. We can only hope that history does not treat him kindly.

    December 16, 2008 06:11 pm at 6:11 pm |
  8. Conservative James, Phoenix, AZ

    Open letter to Dubya:

    If you stand behind your decision, then I dare you to go to Iraq and personally apologize to the families of the over 100,000 innnocent people that YOUR war killed, not to mention the 4000+ Americans.

    You spineless waste of space.

    December 16, 2008 06:13 pm at 6:13 pm |
  9. Steve, New York, New York

    This guy is unreal – I can't wait for him to go back to the "shooting gallery" in Texas, so he and his Neo-con buddies can spend the day, chopping wood, and figuring out how to continue waging war against Muslims. Too bad for them that their days in power are numbered.

    December 16, 2008 06:17 pm at 6:17 pm |
  10. confused??

    AT last! now we have 2 people who know why we invaded Iraq.

    Bush and Cheney

    December 16, 2008 06:17 pm at 6:17 pm |
  11. Vicki5

    Is no one else concerned about the "status of forces agreement" Bush, et al. are signing in the picture. I would like to see more press about the status of forces agreement please. From what I understand, it will put our troops in extreme danger. Please, more information from the press.

    December 16, 2008 06:20 pm at 6:20 pm |
  12. Charles Atlanta

    He might listened but he ignored the good advice. He is still not getting it.. Going to war is not an issue – human history has full of wars. But going to war without a proper reason and a firm goal is an issue. You have to set up a clear objective when going to war. And most of time, you have many different ways to achieve the goal without going to war or sacrificing lives. What is the objective of war on Iraq?

    December 16, 2008 06:20 pm at 6:20 pm |
  13. Cori from Colorado

    It's never about the loss of life, it's always about the priority of money, lots and lots of money, from oil of course. Bush could care less about the innocent victims, as long as he's getting paid. Now that he's left America in such a weakened state, who know's what's going to happen to this country. We're vulnerable now, and Bush still can't admit that those he listened to, were wrong.

    December 16, 2008 06:21 pm at 6:21 pm |
  14. Brian G, Sugar Land, TX

    The worst decision ever made by the worst US President ever.
    Good-bye, W, good-bye!

    December 16, 2008 06:21 pm at 6:21 pm |
  15. enoughalready

    Not only the worst president ever but also the stupidest. Geeez, do the country a favor & leave already!

    December 16, 2008 06:24 pm at 6:24 pm |
  16. FreeNLovIt

    To J

    The prophesy must be fulfilled. Bush is making the way for the Anti Christ to strike a deal and make peace with Israel. Saddam must fall to stabilize the MIddle East for Armageddon. The economy must CRASH toprovide transparencies. All cannot buy or sell without the mark 666. Who else to clean after Bush? Obama.

    December 16, 2008 06:31 pm at 6:31 pm |
  17. The Nightingale Sings in Berkley Square

    Hi this just goes to prove that Bush is not the sharpest knife in the drawer. It is sorry that so many Americans voted for him. I thought the American voter was smarter. Oh well

    Let's throw Mad dog in a hard time prison. That is where he should go with about a 50 billion fine. Let's get tough with these wall street thugs.

    December 16, 2008 06:31 pm at 6:31 pm |
  18. FreeNLovIt

    Bush has ushered us into the age of the Anti Christ. The propecy must be fulfilled.

    December 16, 2008 06:32 pm at 6:32 pm |
  19. Larry

    To: j

    When Iran comes knocking on our door and throwing nukes at us, he might realize his mistake, but then again, he'll probably find someone else to blame.

    It's pretty obvious you have not served our country ,you are totally clueless that if we were not there ,we would have nukes thrown at us,the real question is will you and the Democrats realize your mistakes before it's to late,or do your normal MO and stay in denial,while you look for someone else to blame.

    December 16, 2008 06:35 pm at 6:35 pm |
  20. LisaB

    It's easy to send others into harm's way from behind your desk. If this was the time of George Washington, when the commander in chief was on the battlefield, I think this would be going down a different way.

    December 16, 2008 06:41 pm at 6:41 pm |
  21. Leslie

    Bush thing is stuck on STUPID. Not even worthy of calling a man or a human. Does stupid run in the family...or do you have to work to be that dumb?

    Now you can tell us the truth...Barbara is your grandmother right?

    December 16, 2008 06:47 pm at 6:47 pm |
  22. alvino

    And now with this agreement, "W" will put our troops under the leadership of the Iraqi military. What part of harm's way does he not ujnderstand?

    December 16, 2008 07:02 pm at 7:02 pm |
  23. greg

    Once we pull out our troops in Iraq, President Obama wants to take the fight to Afghanistan......hmmmmmmmmm.....wonder how many Obamabots will join in the fight.

    December 16, 2008 07:05 pm at 7:05 pm |
  24. flyer

    If Iran starts tossing nukes at us you can bet they will get back more than they gave. Now, do you know all the the information that the Gov. had that led up to the war? I will bet that there is a lot of things the people outside of the Gov. that were involved don't know. That means you and every body else.

    December 16, 2008 07:10 pm at 7:10 pm |
  25. s

    I think it wasn't even his decision to make. Hurrah for positive-face frontmen. 🙂

    December 16, 2008 07:13 pm at 7:13 pm |
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